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When Kristen Stewart admitted to cheating on boyfriend and Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, it was all over the news. So it was surprising to see that the recent buzz about Robert's forgiving Kristin was tucked away in the New York Post where it could easily have been missed. Since then, however, various magazines are, in fact, writing about their reported reuniting.
Their situation raises several issues. The first is, given that the treacherous betrayal made the headlines repeatedly, it was interesting that the potential reconciliation was initially glossed over. Secondly, why is it that when women cheat, the impact of the story has a different tone, almost as though they are held to higher expectations, from when men cheat? And finally, and most important, when does it make sense to forgive someone?
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We see it time and time again, but usually from the other side; male celebrities and politicians having affairs. Not only do the women often decide to stand by their side and stay with them, but the public is generally willing to accept the apologies from the men and move on without it having to bring down their relationship or career.
So why does it seem different when a woman cheats? They seem to take a harder hit. If people do forgive, they certainly remember. Meg Ryan is still known for cheating on Russell Crowe. LeAnne Rimes is remembered for admitting to cheating on her then-husband Dean Sheremet. Their betrayals can resonate for years, and can contaminate their careers.
In the same way, Kristen Stewart's actions may stick with her. Concern about movie sales dropping are focused on her behavior and what she did with Snow White & The Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, not so much around what he did. It is as if the standards are separate, and women are still condemned with The Scarlet Letter.
In reality, there shouldn't be any difference. No matter who is cheating, it is a scalding experience for anyone that sometimes can be forgiven and sometimes cannot. The options for men and women are the same.
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When all is said and done, the ability to forgive boils down to a few considerations. The first is how important is this person to you? How much shared history do you have together, how much joy do they bring to your life, and how strong is your chemistry? The second consideration is, has this ever happened before? Is it the first time, and they are stepping up to the plate with a readiness to rebuild your trust and strengthen the relationship? Or has this happened in the past and, while they may have apologized, they never did the work to regain your trust?
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